Jagjit Singh……….Voice of magic
Jagjit Singh is the name of a soul touching voice . ‘Jag’ means World and ‘Jit’ means Winning. Like his name, he has won heartsof millions all over the world. His talent of singing Ghazals in unique style, with his own mix of classical and western music have changed the typical way of singing ghazals. He has given the Ghazal singing a new dimension.
Jagjit Singh is one of the most famous Ghazal singers of the modern times. In an era where the current generation is headed towards rock and hip hop music, it is refreshing to see them cherish Jagjit Singh ghazals as well.
Born in Ganganagar located in Rajasthan on 8th February, 1941, the name Jagjit means the one who triumphs over the world. His father Sardar Amar Singh Dhiman was a Government official and his mother Sardarni Bachchan Kaur had a religious family background. He has four sisters and two brothers and is fondly addressed as “Jeet” by his family.
He went to Khalsa High School in Sri Ganganagar and then studied science after matriculation at Government College, Sri Ganganagar and went onto graduate in Arts at DAV College, Jalandhar. He is a post-graduate in history from Kurukshetra University in Haryana.
Association with music
Jagjit Singh’s association with music goes back to his childhood. He learnt music under Pandit Chaganlal Sharma for two years in Ganganagar, and later devoted six years to learning Khayal, Thumri and Dhrupad forms of Indian Classical Music from Ustad Jamaal Khan of the Sainia Gharana school.
The Vice-Chancellor of Punjab University and Kurukshetra University, Late Professor Suraj Bhan encouraged his interest in music. He arrived in Mumbai in 1965 in search of better opportunities for being a musician and singer. His early struggle in the music industry, though not too harsh by his own account, still had its share of trials and tribulations. He lived as a paying guest and his earlier assignments were singing advertisement jingles or performing at weddings and parties.
First Entry Into Movies
Jagjit Singh was first offered to sing in a Gujarati Film. “Dharati Na Chhoru” produced by Mr. Suresh Amin, famously known by Jagjit Singh as “Jholi Vaaley Baba” : known so, because he carried a Red Shoulder Bag wherever he went. Mr Suresh Amin was from Baroda-Gujarat and was associated with Scad Consultants Pvt Ltd. When, Mr Suresh Amin died in 1998 and Scad Consultants, Baroda, Organized a Live Concert by Jagjit singh in December 1998 – Jagjit Singh [Famously Called by friends as Maharaj] paid a special Tribute to Mr Suresh Amin and dedicated the Scad Consultants Concert to Mr Suresh Amin by Singing the song ” Chitthi Na Koi Sandesh “, the perfect song to match his unawareness of Suresh Amin’s Death.
Rise to fame
During 1970s, the art of ghazal singing was dominated by well-established names like Noor Jehan, Malika Pukhraj, Begum Akhtar, Talat Mahmood and Mehdi Hassan. However, he was able to make his mark and carve out a niche for himself. In 1976, his album The Unforgettables (On HMV LP Records) hit music stores. Essentially a ghazal album, its emphasis on melody and Jagjit’s fresh voice was a departure from the prevalent style of ghazal rendition, which was heavily based on classical and semi-classical Indian music. Skeptics had their own reservations, purists scorned it but it was widely successful among listeners and the album set new sales records.
In 1967, Jagjit met Chitra, also a singer. After a two year courtship they got married (1969). They epitomize the first successful husband-wife singing team. Jagjit and Chitra Singh have made immense contributions to ‘Ghazal’ music and the Indian music industry in general.
Successful releases of the duo include Ecstasies, A Sound Affair and Passions. While these albums were breezy, Beyond Time released in the opening years of 1990s was an experimentation with sounds and conveyed a feeling that was beyond space and time.
Around this time the duo was struck by grief, when their only son, Vivek (21), met an untimely death in a road accident on 28 July 1990. Their subsequent album ‘Someone Somewhere‘ was the last album with ghazals sung by both. The album is a tour of the soul, ethereal, conscientious and introspective. These ghazals have a moving quality to them since they embody a feeling of deep personal loss. After that Chitra Singh quit singing.
Jagjit Singh’s later albums, including Hope, In Search, Insight, Mirage, Visions, Kahkashan (meaning “Galaxy”), Love Is Blind, Chirag (meaning “Lamp”/”Flame”) also achieved success. Sajda (an Urdu word meaning “prostration”), which has ghazals sung by Jagjit and Lata Mangeshkar was another brilliant release and made its mark as a classic Ghazal album. The combined successes of his many albums made him the number one ghazal singer in India. The audience wanted more and Jagjit Singh obliged with his Punjabi albums. Ebullient, effervescent and bubbly, his Punjabi songs are pleasant as well as joyous. His enchanting ghazals use the choicest poetry by renowned poets including Mirza Ghalib, Firaq Gorakhpuri, Qateel Shifai, Shahid Kabir, Ameer Meenai, Kafeel Aazer, Sudarshan Faakir and Nida Fazli, and contemporary writers like Zaka Siddiqi, Nazir Bakri, Faiz Ratlami and Rajesh Reddy.
As Playback singer
Jagjit also sang (as playback singer) for various songs in Bollywood films including Arth, Saath Saath, and Premgeet (all from 1980s). These scores remain popular even today. In fact, all the songs of film Premgeet were composed by Jagjit. His compositions for the TV serial Mirza Ghalib (based on the life of the poet Mirza Ghalib), remain extremely popular among ghazal aficionados. The exclusive element of Ghalib’s poetry was sensitively and wonderfully brought out in the soulful compositions of Ghalib’s ghazals by Jagjit Singh. The album could veritably be called a magnum opus.
Compared to his earlier ghazals (sung during 70s and 80s) his later ghazals have acquired a more soulful and poignant demeanour, as in albums such as Marasim, Face To Face, Aaeena, Cry For Cry. But all through this, romance never took a backseat! The journey to the soul is punctuated by romantic pauses like Dil Kahin Hosh Kahin. A testimony to his popularity is his ghazals in recent Bollywood flicks like Dushman, Sarfarosh, Tum Bin and Tarkeeb.
Most of the earlier albums of Jagjit Singh had English titles. Later, these had Urdu names like Sahar (meaning “Dawn”/”Morning”), Muntazir (meaning “In waiting”), Marasim (meaning “Relation”/”Relationship”/”Affinity” ), and “Soz” (meaning Pathos). The switchover may not be deliberate but marks a milestone in his singing. These new albums show a far better selection of lyrics and his singing has scaled new peaks.
Besides ghazals, Jagjit Singh has also sung Bhajans and Gurbani (Hindu and Sikh devotional hymns respectively). Albums such as Maa, Hare Krishna, Hey Ram…Hey Ram, Ichhabal and also Man Jeetai Jagjeet in Punjabi, put him in the league of Bhajan singers such as Mukesh, Hari Om Sharan, Yesudas, Anup Jalota and Purushottam Das Jalota. The soothing effect that Jagjit’s voice has on frayed nerves has prompted psychiatrists in metros (as large cities in India are called) to prescribe them as stress relievers.
Jagjit Singh on BBC Hindi